Recently I read a post called Patience – A strategic Advantage or Disadvantage? by Mike Brown of the Brainzooming group and its inspired me to re-evaluate the way I work. In the article Mike stated advantages of patience, like having more time for strategic thinking and giving more time for things to fall into place naturally.
The disadvantages of patience included missing opportunities to act and ignoring gut instinct. All of these reasons can be critical to a projects success so how do get the best of both worlds and have one without leaving out the other?
If you divide a project into two parts you have the ‘preparation’ stage and the ‘GO’ stage. The preparation stage is were you take your time, use patience, make sure objectives are correct, you’ve got the right team and you all understand what’s going to happen. This important because if gives you time to look at the problem properly and get to ask yourself if you actually need to be doing this before the costly and labour intensive GO stage happens.
Only after preparation should you set and agree outcomes with everyone involved and set a deadline that cannot be changed, no matter what. Its important that everyone understands what needs to be achieved because nothing web based or software based will ever be properly finished. Your smartphone, computer and router all use software that is being updated. There’s no way Apple could produce a bug free operating system, there isn’t the time. So it produces an operating system it can just about get away with then constantly updates it. Everyone involved with the project has to understand what is good enough to pass.
So next you have the GO section, this is were all the action and work happens. If you take it as a given that nothing will ever go to plan the correct amount of preparation will enable you or your team to work around any hurdles and complete the project so the real life version is better than anyone imagined.
Its a bit like getting married. You properly evaluate whether or not you want to do it before committing yourself. You spend ages choosing a location, coming up with this idea and that. It can be a slow process but that’s OK because you want to get it right and to get it right you have to have patience. That’s the ‘preparation’ section. Once you book the ceremony and reception you enter the point of no return. That’s the ‘GO’ stage. From then one the clock is ticking and there’s nothing you can do to defer anything that needs to be done to a later date. So you one way or the other you get it done.
The GO stage is not just about getting it done though, its about how you get it done. You want to use your instincts, you want to make the most of previously unseen opportunities and introduce new ideas without derailing the project. This is the critical stage because its were most of the money will be spent and were the right decisions can be made. This stage is not about being in control, its about a part of you being out of control. The closer to the deadline you get the more you’ll work, the more excitement and anxiety you’ll feel. Done right it can be thrilling. Done wrong it can be like drudgery were money just gets thrown money down the drain.
So it makes sense to spend some time in the ‘preparation’ stage right? Unfortunately not as the tendency for most people is to just jump right in at the ‘GO’ stage. I’ve seen this time and time again with countless website builds. Making something without respecting or appreciating its complexity can lead to a lot of wasted time.
Does patience lead to procrastination?
There are plenty of productivity books and resources to help you get more done but not many that ask you to question the validity of doing it in the first place. Is every idea a good one? Does every need have to be satisfied? Answering questions like these below might help to focus your mind before you commit your time and resources.
- Should I/we be doing this?
- Can we/I afford it?
- Do I/we want to do this?
- What will I/we gain. What’s the exact ROI or objectives?
- Do I/we understand the problem well enough? Should we look at it more closely?
If you can’t answer these questions without procrastinating for months and months on end you might find that’s your answer and you should put the project down for a while. If you can answer them thoroughly then you won’t have to keep wondering later on in the project is this is a good idea or not when things get hard. Procrastination should only be a problem in the preparation stage because this is were it can drift. If its problem in the GO stage then you haven’t prepared properly or the deadline is too far away.
Not all projects are created equal
We all have lots of projects to complete In our work and personnel lives. Using patience as a strategic tool can help us get better results in many ways. My friend just told me she’s going to do a PHD in child psychology. She’s wanted to do it since she was 18 but couldn’t face the academic style of work at that age. Now she’s 32, had two kids of her own and worked with children for 10 years she feels she’s in the perfect place to do it now.
Every company needs a website but many do not know why. A lot of the time snap decisions and knee jerk reactions are made. Using patience to develop a clearer strategic view would help companies develop a better long term relationship with an entity they probably don’t understand.
So in summary by factoring patience into your projects (and life) you can have the advantages of clear strategic thinking with the innovation that comes from using your instinct, if you can find the correct balance to leap from one stage to the other.